PLEASANTON -- As the winning streak grew, the national ranking rose and pressure mounted, Amador Valley High softball coach Teresa Borchard and her staff had the Dons live by a simple motto.
Win the day.
"We just talked a lot about staying in the present," Borchard said.
Amador Valley ended up winning the day every time it stepped on the field. The Dons went 27-0 and were named mythical national champions by MaxPreps.com.
They won the prestigious Michelle Carew Classic against some of Southern California's top teams and capped the year with a 2-1 victory over Granada in the North Coast Section Division I championship game.
It was the perfect ending for a loaded senior class that suffered a heartbreaking loss in the NCS final two years ago and was eliminated in the first round last season after an ankle injury sidelined star pitcher Johanna Grauer.
But Borchard said those disappointments helped shape a memorable 2014.
"That was hard on these kids but at the same time it made them better because they didn't take any game for granted," Borchard said. "They kept plugging away because they knew any team could beat them."
Borchard also made a concerted effort to improve the Dons' offense this season. She invested in three pitching machines that would spin the ball and dedicated almost twice as much practice time to hitting than in years past.
It was just Borchard's second year as Amador Valley's head coach after assisting at the school for six years before that.
A longtime travel ball coach, Borchard came to Amador Valley with friend Julie Marshall. When the pair started coaching in 2007, the Dons were perennially one of the worst teams in the East Bay Athletic League.
Their first goal was to make the NCS playoffs within five years.
Now look at the state of the program.
"The biggest thing for the program was trying to teach hard work and accountability," Borchard said. "Everything else followed from there."